German lawyers sceptical about regulation for assisted suicide


Central Europe


The German Parliament has no choice: it has to legislate for assisted suicide. The highest court has decided so. But how should the new law look like? The Bundestag had a hearing about that on Monday. Photo EPA, Klaus-Dietmar Gabbert

The German Bundestag had a hearing on Monday about a new regulation of assisted suicide. No decisions have been taken yet. But Germany has to legislate for this soon.

Most of the legal experts at the public hearing were sceptical about a regulation, wrote the Tagesspiegel.

Assistance in exercising a right to freedom is “not usually a punishable injustice,” explained prof. Helmut Frister, a criminal law expert from Düsseldorf, in his statement in the Bundestag’s legal committee. It does not seem appropriate “to generally threaten assistance provided in the exercise of this right with punishment,” he emphasised, according to a report by the German EPD.

Another criminal law expert, Christoph Knauer from Munich, described plans to criminalise assisted suicide again as incompatible with the Basic Law. The Hamburg lawyer Karsten Gaede warned against overburdening those who want help with suicide with “maximum and hardly specific requirements”.


The German state is forced to legislate for this, since the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe ruled in 2020 that the right to a self-determined death also includes the right to enlist the help of third parties. The legal ban that had been in the statute book until then was inadmissible. Now the Bundestag is dealing with a possible follow-up regulation.

Everything connected to euthanasia and assisted suicide is very sensitive in Germany. This has to do with the Nazi era, during which the word euthanasia was used to kill disabled people. Since then, the German state has decided that the state should be there to protect life instead of legislating death.

Lethal drugs

Three groups with MEPs from different parliamentary groups submitted proposals. All three drafts provide for the Narcotics Act to be amended so that lethal drugs can also be prescribed for intentional suicide but set the hurdle for this at different levels.

There is also debate in society. The body “Christian Democrats for Human Life” brought out a statement, saying that the wish for suicide is, in the vast majority of cases, not an absolute desire to die, but a cry for help, according to Katholische Nachrichten.

The Catholic bishops in Germany had asked for a “balance between freedom and care”, in a statement from last week.



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